October Ancestry Challenge – Linda Faye Culpepper

oct ancestry challenge-001 October Ancestry Challenge 2013

23 days – 23 posts – 23 ancestors. I’d like to thank the folks who participated in the challenge. It has been a pleasure getting to know your ancestors. This will be the last installment in the challenge on my page, and thank goodness, it’s been…well…a challenge to come up with 23 ancestors. I’m posting a little early as I’m participating in a Halloween Blog Hop tomorrow. Stop by tomorrow for a creepy story and a chance to win a free Kindle of “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge.” Now, without further ado…

Ancestor #23 – Linda Faye Culpepper

I saved the best for last. ♥

MommaThis beautiful woman was my mother. She was born in 1944 in Meridian, Mississippi to Earl Culpepper and Ina Inez Burke (Ancestor #7). She had only one sister and no brothers.

She married my daddy (Ancestor #22) on August 15, 1960 when she was only 15 years old (the same age she was in this photograph). She said her father tried to discourage her from marrying at such a young age, but the woman I knew was always rebellious. When I was a baby, we moved to Tennessee for a while, but by 1966, the marriage was over, and we moved back to Mississippi and lived with her parents.

While she was a young working mother, she had a woman babysit me and eventually met his son. They married and we moved to Michigan. She went to school to become a nurse and worked for thirteen years in the cardiac unit of the local hospital.

The morning of November 17, 2000, she fell from the second floor balcony of her home when the railing broke. She suffered greatly from seven broken ribs, three broken vertebrae, a ruptured spleen, and a broken arm. After months of fighting, her body gave up and she died July 11, 2001.

She is buried at Resurrection Cemetery in Clinton Township, MI in the Angel Mausoleum.

Rest in peace, momma. I miss you every day.

October Ancestry Challenge – Andrew Frank Crane

oct ancestry challenge-001 October Ancestry Challenge 2013

23 days – 23 posts – 23 ancestors

 Ancestor #22 – Andrew Frank Crane

I’ve saved the best two ancestors for last.

His friends called him Andy. I called him daddy.



Andrew Frank “Andy” Crane was born in 1940 in Mississippi to Andrew Frank Sr and Azalea Pickett Crane. He was the only son of the union and had one sister. He married Linda Faye Culpepper on August 15, 1960 at the age of 20, she was 15. He worked as a carpenter at L.B. Prister and Co.

Two years later, they had “me,” and I am the only child of the union.

crane, andy and linda 1960

The marriage didn’t last long, and by 1966 he was living in Tennessee and married for the second time. In that marriage, he had two sons. He was an avid duck hunter and loved to operate his ham radio. He also played guitar. His guitar now belongs to my brother and has been passed on to my niece who seems to have the same music bug I have.

Daddy headstone He died on October 31, 1994 of complications following a removal of a pituitary tumor. He is missed by his children and by his seven grandchildren whom he never had the pleasure of meeting. crane andy headstone with lori

October Ancestry Challenge – Rice Benjamin Carpenter

oct ancestry challenge-001 October Ancestry Challenge 2013

23 days – 23 posts – 23 ancestors

Ancestor #21 – Rice Benjamin Carpenter

Rice was my 3rd great grandfather. He was born to Benjamin Carpenter and Nancy Rice in 1828 in Tennessee. Before 1834, his family moved to Lauderdale County, Mississippi. This was just following the signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830, and the government had moved the Choctaw Indians off the land and were selling it for cheap to get it settled by Americans.

Rice married Mary Ann Rodgers (Ancestor #17) in 1846 and had five children before he went off to fight in the Civil War. On December 31, 1862, he fought in the Battle of Stones River in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The following is a chapter from my book “Okatibbee Creek.”


okatibbee creek cover front JPEGThe ground is hard. The air is chilly. Every night, it’s pitch-black out here. I haven’t been able to sleep a wink. I can hear some low, quiet talking outside, an ole hoot owl in the woods far away, a couple of bull-frogs croaking in the grass, and even someone snoring next to me. I wish I could sleep.

I remember the day we arrived. The land here was quite beautiful then. There were thick woods of cedar trees lining a beautiful river.

That was a month ago. Over the last three weeks, most of the trees have been used for firewood, to build makeshift cabins, and turned into poles to hold up tents. It’s been raining a lot, mixed with a little snow and freezing rain. When the sun comes out in the morning, everything melts. Now this once beautiful land looks like one big, muddy pigsty. The mud is awful and the smell is even worse. God, the smell.

We were told that we would be awakened well before dawn for a mission. It must be almost that time. I’m tired. I’m anxious. I’m hungry. If we have a mission this early, there won’t be time for any breakfast. Maybe some hardtack and warm canteen water and that’s it.

I don’t know what I’d do right now for a good, strong cup of hot coffee. We haven’t had any coffee for weeks. We’ve been boiling chicory and peanuts instead. I would like some real coffee.

I would also like some clean clothes and some new shoes as well. I wonder if Mr. Calhoun has new shoes selling in the store. I would like some of his well-made shoes without mud on them, and with soles that aren’t worn through. I would like some clothes that aren’t caked in mud and sweat. I would like a chicken dinner. I would like to see my wife and my children. I would like to get away from these drunken, loud men. I would like to get away from the coughing and the diseases that are spreading through our camp like wild-fire. I would like to get back to my civilized store and my comfortable life, away from this godforsaken war that has gone on far too long for my taste. I should have been home months ago.

I hear them outside moving around now. I hear them all waking up and starting to stir. Someone sticks his head in my tent and says, “Rice, come on, we’re meeting at the captain’s tent in ten minutes.”

Yeah, there is something big going on, all right. One could almost cut the tension in the air with a knife. In ten minutes, we will find out exactly what it is. I put on my coat and hat and what remains of my worn shoes, and head through the mud to the captain’s tent.

“Men, you all know we have Yankees just over the river. We’ve heard that they plan to engage us after breakfast, but we’re not going to wait for them to come across. We’re going to give them a nice little surprise wake-up right now.” He points to a map on the table and continues. “The Kentucky boys are going to go around this way, and the Tennessee boys are going to take them on from that direction. We will move through this way. Since it is so early, we should be able to catch most of them still asleep in their tents.”

He waves his stick around the map so quickly, it is almost hard to figure out exactly where we are supposed to go.

“Any questions?” he asks.

All the men shake their heads.

“Good, let’s go kick some Yankee butt. When we are finished, we will confiscate their coffee, and I’ll join you in a cup,” he says.

“Now you’re speaking my language, Captain,” I joke.

He smiles and pats me on the shoulder as I leave the tent.

We grab our muskets and revolvers and move through what remains of the dense cedar glades, up the river-bank, as quiet as deer at dusk. It is still dark. I guess it must be about four or four thirty in the morning. We usually move to the sound of drum and bugle, but not on this day. Today, we are gravely quiet. As we plant ourselves behind some low limestone rocks about seven hundred yards away from the enemy, I can see about thirty campfires and a few men wandering around, but the camp is mostly quiet. It might be my imagination, but I think I smell coffee. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a cup of that. It dawns on me that there are a lot more campfires than men, so they must want us to think that their army is a lot bigger than it actually is. Why else have so many campfires?

I am uncomfortable lying on my belly so low on the ground behind eight-inch-tall limestone rocks, and I wonder why we haven’t built some fortifications over the last month. Not that there are any trees left to build them with, but I wonder nonetheless. I assume we weren’t planning on this attack, but since the opportunity has presented itself, we are going to take advantage of it, with or without fortifications.

When everyone gets into position, we start aiming for the men who are walking around, though when they hear the first gun-shot, they crouch down, running and scurrying for their guns. I see quite a few of them fall before I ever hear one of their guns shooting back at us. For a moment, I think this is going to be an easy victory. We’ll send those Yankees back home with their tails between their legs before dawn. Then we’ll drink their coffee.

A few days ago, about twenty-five hundred of our Calvary boys rode all the way around the Union camp, confiscated four wagon trains, and took about a thousand Union prisoners, but we didn’t get any coffee. Maybe these Yankees don’t have much coffee, either.

“Well, they’re not getting any today,” I mumble to myself as I raise my musket and fire.

As the Yankees start to run away, someone behind us gives the rebel yell and we all follow suit. It is a mix of an Indian war cry and a gypsy scream. The Yankees probably think Indians are attacking them. We all rise from our positions and start running after them.

After we cross the freezing cold river, we pick up speed and are almost right on top of them. We are moving in and fast. Roughly ten thousand Confederate troops are raining down on their heads before breakfast. Most of those Yankee boys are running away like scared little rabbits.

“Run, rabbit, run!” I yell.

Our band starts playing “Dixie” and we hum along as we aim, fire, and reload. Occasionally, cannon fire shakes the ground, fills the air with smoke, and drowns out the band. One cannon fires so close behind me, I think my hearing will be gone for good. I am aiming at a Yankee when a cannon fires. I blink my eyes and the Yankee is gone.

One of the boys loading the cannon yells to me, “I got him for you, Rice. You go on home now.”

He roars with laughter as I roll my eyes at him and wiggle my finger in my ear, gesturing that I can’t hear him. He laughs louder.

Our band is now playing “My Bonnie Blue Flag” as we start moving in closer. We walk so far and so long, it seems the Yankees have all but run all the way back home. We move for a solid two miles before we catch up with them again. By the time we engage them again, it is light outside.

Our band always plays marches like “Marching Through Georgia” or “I’m a Good Ole Rebel.” The Yankee bands always play songs like “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” A popular song on both sides is “Home Sweet Home,” but our band is not allowed to play that. The captain says the melancholy tune makes everyone homesick, and he is afraid some of the men will desert and go home. But for some reason on this cold Tennessee morning, our band starts playing that song.

Our boys always sing along, but today, the strangest thing happens. The Union boys start singing along. I can hear them singing over the gunfire. I can’t believe I can hear Yankees singing, partly because they are that close, but mostly because we are in the heat of battle. Singing together seems more than bizarre to me. Then the Union band picks up on the tune and they start to play along also. Everyone is singing and for a split second, the shooting stops. For a brief moment, the cannon fire stops.

I think, how can everyone sing together and then resume shooting one another? How can everyone share this melancholy moment and take up arms again? Men on both sides are singing together like I’ve never heard anyone sing before. In another time, another place, we would be friends.

I stop firing and listen to everyone singing, thinking this is the most surreal moment I can remember in my life. I am lying flat on my stomach, and I lift my head to look around at the men. As I rise further and turn to look at the ones behind me, I feel a searing pain rip through my chest. I reach up to my chest and feel warm blood oozing out of a bullet wound. Damn. I optimistically think it is probably only a surface wound, and I will be all right if I can make it all the way back to camp. I can write to Mary and tell her I’m all right. I don’t want her and the children to worry about me.

As I try to get to my feet and turn toward the direction of camp, I feel another hot pain go through my left temple.

I hear someone yell, “Rice, get down!”

I fall to my knees, thinking this can’t possibly be the end. No, it can’t be. I have a beautiful wife and wonderful children to get home to. I try to get up again, but stumble forward and fall facedown onto the ground.

“Rice!” I hear someone yell again.

I stare at the pebbles and the pine needles on the ground. Blood starts to pool under my face, turning the dirt and pebbles and pine needles a flood of bright red.

I listen as the cannons roar and the rifles fire and the band plays “Home Sweet Home,” and I think of my beautiful Mary and my wonderful children—Mattie, Benjamin, Charlie, and Monroe. How lucky I am to have them.

Then slowly, everything fades from red to black.


dec 2012 407Private Rice Benjamin Carpenter

Killed in battle December 31, 1862

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Remains and memorial at Evergreen Cemetery in the Confederate Circle

October Ancestry Challenge – Elizabeth “Elly” Hays

oct ancestry challenge-001 October Ancestry Challenge 2013

23 days – 23 posts – 23 ancestors

Ancestor #20 – Elizabeth “Elly” Hays

My fifth great grandma was Elizabeth “Elly” Hays. She was born just before the start of the Revolutionary War on the Tennessee-North Carolina border to Samuel Hays and Elizabeth Pricilla Brawford.


Marriage document James Rodgers and Elizabeth Hays GreeneCoTN1790Elly was sixteen when she married James Rodgers in Tennessee on 20 Dec 1790. The document to the left is their marriage license. She birthed twelve children.

In 1811, the family packed up and moved to the eastern Mississippi Territory – a place called Alabama, which wouldn’t become a state until 1819. You know how difficult it is going on a road trip with little kids in the car? Imagine being on a wagon for two months with a dozen of the little rug rats and not a McDonalds in sight.

This was a time in history when the U. S. was flexing its political muscle and tensions were escalating, leading up to the War of 1812. And little did the Rodgers family know, they were moving into Creek territory. Not only were the Creek Indians fighting the U.S. Government, they had also broken into two factions and were fighting among themselves in a civil war called the Red Stick War. The Rodgers family moved into the middle of a hornet’s nest. They were harassed for years by the marauding Indians, who taunted them and stole their livestock, and the final straw, burnt down their home.

In 1815, her two eldest sons, Hays (Ancestor #18) and Absolom, joined the Mississippi Militia to help fight off the hostile Creek Indians, and following the boy’s discharges in 1818, the family moved west to Lauderdale County, Mississippi.

James died in Mississippi eight years later, and Elly moved back to Clarke County, Alabama and probably lived with her daughter Elizabeth. She died in the 1830s in her 60s in Grove Hill, Alabama. The exact date of her death is unknown. Her burial place is unknown.

elly cover_webElizabeth Hays Rodgers is the heroine of my book “Elly Hays” which is the third book in the Okatibbee Creek series.

October Ancestry Challenge – Martha Ellen Rodgers

oct ancestry challenge-001 October Ancestry Challenge 2013

23 posts – 23 days – 23 ancestors

Ancestor #19 – Martha Ellen Rodgers 

Martha Ellen Rodgers is my cousin. Her father and my 3rd great grandmother were siblings.



James daughter Martha Ellen Rodgers MeekShe was born in 1853 in Lauderdale County, Mississippi to James Rodgers and Martha Sanderford Rodgers. She had a five-year-old brother and a two-year-old sister, and two more children would follow. She grew up in a farming community, surrounded by loving grandparents and more than a dozen aunts and uncles, along with their respective spouses and children. Her father and a slave named Bill built the log home she grew up in. Her childhood was ideal.

In 1861, Mississippi seceded from the Union and Civil War broke out. Though she had many uncles go off to fight in the war, her brothers were too young and her father was too old, so they remained safely at home with her.

But all would not remain ideal, as during the fall of 1862, a typhoid epidemic invaded her community, killing her grandparents, many aunts, uncles, and cousins, and both of her parents. Her father died October 12, 1862. Her mother died a few short weeks later.

She was nine.

Her given name was Martha Ellen Rodgers, but she was simply known as Ellen.

Hays Rodgers Jr and wife Lucinda GrahamShe and her siblings were placed in the custody of the eldest male in the family, their uncle Hays Rodgers Jr. (photo with wife Lucinda), but he was off fighting in the war, so she was raise for a time by her aunt Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter (Ancestor #17). When Hays Jr. returned home from the war, he sold his farm and moved to Alabama. Ellen went with him. Her other aunt, Aunt Elizabeth Rodgers (photo with husband George), was also there, and when Aunt Elizabeth died in 1875, Ellen returned to Mississippi. rodgers elizabeth and husb george malon graham, daug of hays g

She stayed in Mississippi for a while with her two sisters, but eventually went to Texas. Her two brothers had moved there years earlier, and I imagine she only went out for visit, though the thought of a young woman traveling alone in the 1800s seems dangerous to me. When she got there, everything changed for her.

When she arrived, she met her brother’s wife’s brother, Sam Houston Meek. She and Sam married in 1885. They had twin sons in 1886 who both died. Then they had a daughter Olive Lee in 1888. When Olive Lee was two, Ellen had another girl in 1890, but the baby girl died, and sadly, Ellen died of complications within the week. She was 37.

rodgers martha ellen rodgers meek, dau of james rodgersShe is buried in Nolanville, Bell County, Texas at Pleasant Hill Cemetery.

My book, AN ORPHAN’S HEART, is her story.

October Ancestry Challenge – Hays Rodgers

oct ancestry challenge-001


 The October Ancestry Challenge 2013

23 posts – 23 days – 23 ancestors.

 Ancestor #18 – Hays Rodgers



Rodgers Hays SrHays Rodgers was my 4th great grandfather. He was married to Marey Ann Scott and had 14 children: Lewis, James, Allen, Jackson, Susannah, Stephen, William, Mary Ann (heroine of my book Okatibbee Creek and my 3rd great grandmother, ancestor #17), Timothy, Hays Jr, Wilson, John W, Elizabeth and Martha Jane. Geez, how can you even remember all those names. I call my two dogs by each other’s names.

His sons, Stephen and William, died in 1834 at the ages of 8 and 10. His son, James, died of typhoid in Nov of 1862. Between 1863 and 1864, his sons, Timothy, Wilson and John W,  all  died during the Civil War. Timothy and Wilson died of illness. John died of a gunshot wound to the stomach in Jonesboro, GA. Fortunately, Hays was not alive to witness the soldier’s deaths as he died of typhoid in Dec of 1862, a couple weeks after his son James.

He was born 1 Feb 1783 in Greene County, TN to James Rodgers and Elizabeth “Elly” Hays (heroine of my new book Elly Hays). He was the eldest son of 12 children. At the age of 18, he moved with his parents to Clarke Co, AL which was part of the Mississippi Territory at that time. Alabama didn’t become a state until 1819. He and his brother, Absolom, signed up for the Mississippi Militia in 1814, and were assigned to Capt Evan Austill’s company of volunteers in Maj Sam Dale’s Battalion to fight against the hostile Creek Indians. Hays remained in the Militia until Oct 1818, but was only called out once for a two-month tour.

MS Cemetery 076On 11 Dec 1816, he married Marey Ann Scott, who was from Georgia. In 1818, following the end of his military service, he, Marey, and 1st born Lewis, moved to Copiah Co, MS (what later became Simpson, MS). He started buying land and farming. He built the “Ole Stennis House” in 1857 at the age of 61 (with the help of 13 slaves). In 1860, the U.S. Census states Hays owned 13 slaves, a 640 acre (square mile) plantation, 2 horses, 3 mules, 10 cows, 4 oxen, 16 sheep, 60 swine, and $600 in farming instruments, for a total worth of $8400. However, most of his wealth was tied up in slaves, as they were worth about $1000 each – that’s probably a million bucks in today’s money.

Upon his death in Dec 1862 in Lauderdale Co, MS, he owned 690 acres of land and stock in the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, which was sold and divided between his heirs. His wife died three months after him in March of 1863, also of typhoid.

His property was sold in 1869 at public auction on the steps of the Meridian Courthouse to Major Adam T Stennis, hence the name “Ole Stennis House.” It remained in the Stennis family for 100 years until 1970, then sat abandoned for two decades. It is now owned by the Hover family who have restored it as you can see by the photo above. Right before the property was auctioned in 1869, Hays Jr, who was the only son to return home from the war, albeit with a useless arm and a wilted spirit, sold his farm and moved to Alabama to be near his wife’s family. He sold his farm to a black man named Tom Stennis. Tom Stennis was a former slave to Major Adam T Stennis.

elly cover_web

October Ancestry Challenge – Mary Ann Rodgers

oct ancestry challenge-001The October Ancestry Challenge 2013 23 posts – 23 days – 23 ancestors.

Ancestor #17 – Mary Ann Rodgers





Rodgers, Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter JollyShe was just a name in my family tree. Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter Jolly. My third great grandmother. 1828-1898.

I discovered that she lost her first husband, Rice Carpenter, in the Civil War in 1862. How sad to lose the one you love, but hey, it’s war, people die. After he died, she remarried in 1864.

I looked at the 1870 census and found she was married to William Jolly and was living with his children, her children, and three children they had together. It was a house-full! But at least their three children (Ancestor #15) were proof they must have liked each other, right? That’s good. I was interested where William came from, so I traced him back and looked at his 1860 census. In 1860, he was living with his wife Harriet, their four children, and a woman named Nancy Carpenter who was 69 years of age.

Nancy Carpenter? The only Nancy Carpenter I know is Rice’s mother, whose maiden name was Nancy Rice. Why was Mary Ann’s mother-in-law living with her future husband?? Were they neighbors? Was she their cleaning lady? I clicked on Nancy Carpenter and saw her relationship to the “head of house” was listed as “mother-in-law.” She was William’s mother-in-law? What?? She was Harriet’s mother?

So, I went back and looked at Rice’s family, and sure enough, his sister Harriet was married to William. Rice died 31 Dec 1862 and Harriet died a month later on 30 Jan 1863. Their spouses, Mary Ann and William, brother-in-law/sister-in-law, married in 1864. Well of course they did. They had known each other for many years, hadn’t they?

The more I looked at the Rodgers and Carpenter families, the more I was amazed by the sheer number of family members they lost to war and typhoid. At the time of my research, I remember counting SEVENTEEN, but I’m sure there were many more I missed. I couldn’t wrap my head around that kind of heartache and quickly became impressed with Mary Ann’s strength. How would you react if you lost two or three family members this year? You would probably need Prozac. How would you respond if you lost a dozen? I wouldn’t even be able to get out of bed. Seventeen in one year? I can’t even fathom that.

okatibbee_cover frontYears, numbers, and names from census records are just that – years, numbers, and names – unless you put yourself in their shoes. Then they become tears, children, and heartaches. We all come from those strong women. We are the living proof of their strength. If the boat sank, the story would be over. But it didn’t, and we know that because we are here. We are the survivors. I dug deep down in my heart and soul and decided to tell her story, a story she would be proud of. I wanted her to know that she didn’t go through all of that in vain. I am here. I am her legacy. Her story has been told to make us all stronger. We are the products of strength, fortitude, and integrity, as well as tears, heartache, and pain. We are the children our grandmothers fought so hard for, and I want Mary Ann to be as proud of me as I am of her.



October Ancestry Challenge – John Francis Burke

oct ancestry challenge-001The October Ancestry Challenge 2013 23 posts – 23 days – 23 ancestors.

Ancestor #16 – John Francis Burke, my 2nd great grandfather from Dublin, Ireland.

Family stories say he stowed away alone on an America-bound ship when he was 15 years old. The captain found him en route and told him he could not be taken back. He told the captain, “If I wanted to go back, I wouldn’t have stowed away.” So, they dropped him off in Miami in 1862, in the beginning of the Civil War.

There are a few John Burkes in Confederate military records and census records from 1862 to 1870, but I don’t know which one, if any, is him. There is one in particular in the 1870 census listed as a farmhand in Alabama that I am leaning toward, but I’m not sure.

The next record of him was his marriage in 1879 to Nancy Didama Spencer of Mississippi, daughter of my Ancestor #5 George Washington Spencer. He is shown living with her family in the 1880 census and is listed as a “ditcher.” The record said he was 30 years old, making his birth about 1850, making him only 12 years old when he ran away from home. I wish I could figure out the truth, which may require a trip to Dublin.

burke JP Burke Sr headstoneHe and “Grandma Damie” had six children between 1880 to 1894. There are no other records of him. Strangely, Damie is listed as a widow in the 1900 census, though John Francis did not die until 1909. Family members tell me Damie did not believe in divorce, and Damie and John spent the last ten years of their marriage under the same roof, but not speaking. When Damie spoke to the census-taker, she said she was a widow. I don’t know what he did to make her so angry, but it must have been a doozey. This explains why they are not buried next to each other at the cemetery. I always wondered why they are in different rows.

On a side note: One of their children was John Patrick Burke who married Mary Elizabeth Howington. I think Mary Elizabeth Howington’s mother was a Choctaw Indian, but I’m still trying to prove that fact. Anyway, John Patrick Burke’s mother, Grandma Damie, was a doctor and rode around the community side-saddle taking care of the sick. My mother told me a story about a grandmother who was a “medicine woman” who knew every plant and tree and how it could be used to heal people. She told me it was my other grandmother who was a Choctaw Indian, but I believe she got the women confused, and she was speaking of Grandma Damie as the doctor, but the other grandma was the Indian.

Family members told me John Francis left home because he was angry with his father. I don’t know who his parents were, but if I ever venture into Dublin, Ireland records, I should be able to find him because his children were named after his siblings. His children were John Patrick “Pat”, Robert Emmett “Bob”, George Washington (Probably won’t find a sibling with that name. That was his father-in-law’s name), Nina Virginia, Kathlene L, and David Edmund.

I don’t know what kind of childhood his son (my great grandpa), John Patrick “Pat” Burke, had as he died four years before I was born, but I do know he played fiddle every Saturday night at the community barn dances. A cousin has his fiddle and the family pump organ stored away. Being a professional musician, I would give anything to get my hands on those. I wonder where my great grandfather learned to play fiddle. It’s such an Irish thing to do, don’t you think? Perhaps his father taught him. Hmmm.

tattooI’m not sure I will ever find my Irish ancestors, and I feel sorry for John Francis’s mother, never knowing what happened to her rebellious fifteen-year-old son. John Burke could have pulled that name out of the sky or it could have been Bourke or O’Byrne or something. Either way, here’s a toast to my grandfather, John Francis Burke. For without his braveness at the tender age of fifteen, I would not be here.

October Ancestry Challenge – Ludie, Alice, and John

oct ancestry challenge-001The October Ancestry Challenge 2013 

23 posts/23 days/23 ancestors.

Ancestor #15 – Ludie, Alice, and John




Ludie, Alice, and John were children of my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter, and her second husband, William Jolly.

Mary Ann had married Rice Carpenter and had a handful of children before he was killed in the Civil War on Dec 31, 1862.

William Jolly had married Rice’s sister, Harriet Carpenter, and also had a handful of children before she died of typhoid in Jan 1863 – only a month after Rice died.

I imagine Mary Ann and William (brother-in-law/sister-in-law) were a good support system for each other at the time. So much so, that in 1864, they married. Their children, who were once cousins, became 1/2 siblings. And to make the family even more complicated, in 1866, 1867, and 1869, they had three of their own children: Sarah Louella “Ludie” Jolly, Alice Jolly, and John Jolly. I feel as though I am closely related to the Jollys, but since I am a descendant of Mary Ann and Rice, it feels as though I’m not really related to them at all. It’s like they’re a different family. Ludie, Alice, and John would be my 1/2 aunts and 1/2 uncle. I’ve never even heard of such a thing.

Sarah Louella Jolly family 1900, hub Frank, kids Oscar, Cora, Alma, Grover, Elma, Queenie, Fred, Austin, BarneyAnyway, to make a confusing family EVEN MORE confusing, Ludie married Frank Williamson…






Alice Jolly family 1896, with hub Henry, Carl and Edith, girl standing is not hers - Copy …and Alice married Jeff Williamson.


I know what you’re thinking, and no, they weren’t brothers. I breathed a sigh of relief, too. Ludie moved to Louisiana and had, ready?, FIFTEEN kids! Alice remained in Mississippi and had four kids.


Their little brother John first married Missouri Johnson. On Dec 7, 1891, she gave birth to their first child, a son, and on Dec 14, she died of complications.


John Eades Jolly and wife SarahIn 1894, John found love again and remarried. Guess what her name was? Yep, Johnson…Bettie Johnson. I’m not going to tell you the women weren’t related because I don’t know for sure. I can’t find much info on Missouri.




I will tell you one thing for sure, even though I don’t have a photo of my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Ann, I can tell by her children that she was a beautiful woman!


P.S. If this family menagerie has peaked your interest, Mary Ann’s whole story is told in my book Okatibbee Creek.” I’ve been thinking about her and the family recently because we are finishing up the audio book for release in November, and listening to the narrator speak in my grandmother’s voice has really been haunting me. I think I’ll do an ancestry post about her in the next couple days. 🙂

October Ancestry Challenge – William Thomas Fisher

oct ancestry challenge-001The October Ancestry Challenge 2013 

23 posts/23 days/23 ancestors.

Ancestor #14 – William Thomas Fisher

My 3rd great grandfather was William Thomas Fisher, son of Southy Fisher and Elizabeth Butler. He was born on June 5, 1819 in Alabama, and as far as I can tell from records, he only had three sisters: Martha, Maria, and Permilla.

fisher southyHere is his father’s will:

In the name of God, Amen. 

I Southy Fisher of the county of Lauderdale in the state of Mississippi, of lawful age, and sound and disposing mind and memory, God be praised for it, do hereby make this my last will and testament.

1st  It is my desire that when it shall please God to take, that my body be decently interred.

2nd  It is my desire that my beloved wife Elizabeth Fisher have during her life a negro girl named Harriett, and at her death this said negro girl Harriett is to belong to my belong son William T. Fisher.

3rd  It is my will and desire that my son William T. Fisher shall have all my negroes that I shall own at my death, and which I now own namely Frank, Ned, Harriett, Aggy and Anthony a boy, all slaves for life, and my stock of horses, hogs, oxen, cattle, sheep, goats all my farming utensils, my crop of cotton, corn and small grain either growing or gathered, and all other species of property remaining on the farm, and also my plantation on which I now reside, and all other lands in this and adjoining counties.

4th  It is my will and desire that my Executor whom I shall hereafter name pay my just debts out of the first money that may come into his hands and also that he pay to my daughters, Martha White, Maria Fisher and Permilla Burton the sum of five dollars each as a full and entire interest in my estate.  They having been provided for by a deed of Gift to each of them dated the seventeenth day of April 1855 and duly recorded in deed book letter G. 

5th  I do hereby nominate and appoint my friend Benjamin Y Parke my executor and desire that he may carry out the provisions of my will and to settle up my estate at as convenient and short a time as the law will admit.  In   ——whereof shall —— set my hand and seal the fourth day of June AC 1855.

Southy Fisher (seal) 

 Signed sealed published and witnessed by the said Southy Fisher as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us, who in his presence and at his request and in the presence of each other have with set and subscribed our names as witness here..—-  this fourth day of June AD 1855. 

H.D. Meador, J. Lown, C E Rushing

 (note: Benjamin Parke was the county clerk at that time)


William T. and Ann Elizabeth (Butler) FisherWilliam didn’t marry until the age of 39, and the family story is that he rode to North Carolina, where the family was originally from, and brought back Ann Eliza Butler on horseback. She was 15 years his junior, and Butler was also his mother’s maiden name, so they may have been cousins or something.

After their marriage, William went to Mobile to buy a slave to help Ann in the kitchen. While he was there, he noticed a small black boy with light patches on his skin. He asked the slave traders what they were going to do with the boy, who was about 5 years old. The traders said on their way back, they would throw him overboard to the sharks. William wouldn’t allow that to happen, so he brought the boy home and raised him. The boy’s name was Charlie “Fisher” and he stayed at William’s side even during the Civil War. Charlie drew a pension from the war until his death in 1928.

At the end of the war, William not only freed Charlie, but gave him 80 acres of family land on Fisher Road in Zero, Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Charlie’s descendants still live on the land to this day.

Though William seemed to be a warm and loving family man, he didn’t take crap from anyone, which seems to be a family trait that we’ll discuss more below. William was imprisoned at Mississippi State Prison in Jackson, Mississippi about a year before the Civil War. He was imprisoned for killing a man named McGinnis in his corn crib. It was told McGinnis was stealing, but the underlying belief is that it was a card game gone bad and William caught McGinnis cheating and shot him. William had to sell off a lot of land to pay off the judge and lawyers to try and stay out of jail, but he served time anyway. When the war began, he was release to serve as a Captain.

Here’s a great story (condensed by me) about William’s family and a dispute at The Brickyard in Marion, Lauderdale County, Mississippi.


Aunt Muggie’s Dilemma  

In 1846, Marion was a hub of activity as young men signed up for the militia in hope of fighting in the Mexican War. The Brickyard at Marion was the mustering point.

The owner of the brickyard, S. S. Shumate and his wife Muggie, had a disagreement with a man named Fisher. The reason seemed to be over Shumate’s claim to ownership of the brickyard. On at least one occasion the dispute became heated to the extent that the town Marshal intervened and arrested the participants. They were each fined $1, and for a time the dispute ended.

However, sometime later the Fishers again appeared at the brickyard. This time they were armed. The Shumates and the Fishers were armed with Flintlock weapons, each a single-shot gun, which took time to load and fire.

When the Fishers made their presence known at the brickyard, one can imagine the hurried preparation of Muggie and her husband to meet the challenge. When prepared, they stepped out into the brickyard and fired.

When Muggie and Shumate stepped out to confront the Fishers, Muggie had two guns, Shumate had one. Apparently, each of the Fishers had a single gun. Muggie was the first to fire and her shot “cut down old man Fisher.” One of the Fisher boys, William, fired at Muggie and missed. Muggie discarded her empty gun, picked up her second gun and fired again, this time dropping William Fisher. Muggie’s husband, terrified by the fighting, immediately dropped his weapon and fled.

Muggie, furious with Shumate for his cowardice, picked up his unfired weapon and shot him down. This was, perhaps, not the wisest choice of targets, since at least one Fisher continued to hold a charged weapon. This remaining Fisher aimed and shot, killing Muggie before she could reload her weapons. 


William and Ann had eleven children, including my 2nd great grandmother Caledonia Fisher who married Joseph Lawson Pickett. The Pickett clan wasn’t much more peaceful than the Fisher clan. You can read about a Pickett gunfight here.

fisher william thomas headstone, callies fatherWilliam died May 13, 1882 at the age of 62. Ann died January 13, 1910 at the age of 75. They are both buried at Fisher Cemetery in Lauderdale County, Mississippi.fisher ann eliza butler fisher headstone